Directing and writing credits:
"Face-Off" is directed by Kenny Ortega, written by John Stephens. You should remember both of these guys from previous episodes but in case you need a refresher, here's an overview for Ortega:

"They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?" - This is arguably the absolute best episode of "GG" because it has everything - drama, dancing, and (for once) good fashion. Most importantly, it's the episode where Dean finally gets some self-respect and tells Rory he's done.
"A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving" - Rory and Lorelai eat four Thanksgiving dinners, Sookie drinks too many margaritas, and Lane and Dave Rygalski finally kiss! This is another great episode.

Here's an overview for Stephens:

"Forgiveness and Stuff" - Richard has the first of several health scares and Emily is unconvinced that Lorelai and Luke aren't fucking.
"Emily in Wonderland" - Emily spends the day in Stars Hollow where she haggles with Mrs. Kim, flirts with Michel, and ultimately leaves, horrified by Rory and Lorelai's previous living conditions.
"Run Away, Little Boy" - This episode is heavy on the Chilton drama and therefore, pretty boring.
"I Can't Get Started" - Sookie gets married, Rory kisses Jess, and Christopher has an avoidable fuck up YET AGAIN.
"I Solemnly Swear" - Emily is FINALLY sued by one of her maids for wrongful termination, Paris flips out on Rory while fencing (bc swords are fighting penises), and Sookie acts like a moron.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
Aside from Rory's continued obsession with midi skirts in disgusting fabrics (corduroy 🤭), there aren't too many fashion faux pas. I hate Lorelai's bright pink cardigan with tiny fake pearls, but it's mild compared to the horrendously ugly shit she usually wears.

Lorelai-Pearl-Cardigan-Face-Off-Gilmore-Girls
She pairs this with sweatpants (?) that have a pink stripe down the side.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Rory deals with her Jess frustrations in the worst way possible and it is painful to watch. Yes, Jess is an asshole, but it's unfair for her to get angry, bottle it all up, and then explode in an answering machine message. Get it together, Rory. Learn to express your emotions now or enjoy a lifetime of crippling disapointment when partners are unable to magically read your fucking mind.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
Sookie is barely in this episode and Rory is too in her feelings about Jess and Dean to treat Lane poorly.

Best literary or pop culture references:
A casual reference to Michael Moore let's you know that is is defintitely the early 2000s.

Lorelai: And you couldn’t have taken two seconds at work to call and tell her that?
*Jess: No.
Lorelai: Really? You don’t get breaks? Do you get food, water? Should I get Michael Moore on the phone?

Stars Hollow weirdness:
Taylor's whole family is in town for the hockey regional semifinals, which is depressing. I don't understand why these middle-aged people care about a high school sports team. I'm sad for the whole Doose family and I now better understand why Taylor is so pathetic.

Other adults in SH are apparently just as bored, because they show up to the hockey match in droves. Kirk is there, announcing the game even though he clearly doesn't know dick about hockey. Babette and Miss Patty sing the national anthem, because of course they do. I'm surprised Sookie and Jackson aren't there. Nothing says hot date night in SH quite like a high school sporting event.

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
After Dave's Christian trio performs their first set at the prayer meeting, Mrs. Kim tells them, "Very nice. You may now take a fifteen-minute break while we finish our tea. Also, good time to retune." I love this because it's a compliment followed by a vague insult that sends Zack and Brian into a tailspin.

Brian: Was she looking at me?
Zack: She wasn’t looking at me, dude.

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Zack's fully buttoned-up shirt is a nice touch.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Rory mentions Shakespeare's "Othello" but doesn't actually read anything.

Best song of the episode:
Zack's remix of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" is surprisingly delightful.

🎶 "A mighty fortress is our God, a wall ten stories high. And he helps us when things get bad and the devil tries to hurt us." 🎶

Thoughts:
As previously mentioned, Taylor's family is in town and oh yay, they're all staying at the Independence Inn. Lorelai and Michel are going to have a blast hosting a bunch of light sleepers who are prone to night terrors and allergic to bedclothes. Are we 100% sure that Kirk isn't related to Taylor? Finding out that Kirk is Taylor's illegitimate son would explain so much.

Emily is stressed out at Friday night dinner because Gran is coming to stay for a few days and won't stop calling with questions and demands. Lorelai and Rory are secretly happy about this because it provides a nice distraction for their warp speed eating. They both have dates that night and need to gtfo by 8:30 PM. Unfortunately for them, Emily Gilmore is sharp as a tack and realizes what they're trying to do in spite of all the mattress delivery and towel inquiry interruptions.

Alexis Bledel is laughably bad at pretending to eat food quickly. Every movement is comically exaggerated and her attempt to sound like she's talking with her mouth full gives me high school drama class flashbacks. Moments like this remind me that her growth as an actor from Rory Gilmore to Ofglen is legitimately impressive.

When the ladies finally get back to their house, Rory checks the answering machine and finds that Jess never called to solidify plans. Instead of calling him, she slumps onto the couch with crossed arms and looks annoyed/pouty. Every single boyfriend I had in high school did this shit and I reacted in pretty much the same way as Rory. I felt sad and annoyed that I wasn't important enough to deserve definitive plans, but I never actually expressed those feelings to anyone but my mom. It's easy for me to critique Rory's dumbass decisions but as a teen, I was right there with her.

The next day, as they walk to Luke's, Rory tells Lorelai about her hot night of cleaning and organizing. In one of her finest parenting moments, Lorelai asks her why the fuck she didn't just call Jess. When Rory responds with her standard teen girl bullshit ("because he said he'd call me"), Lorelai expresses her opinion but doesn't try to control the situation. Why isn't Lorelai this reasonable all the time (she has a secret meth addiction)?

Walking-to-Diner-Face-Off-Gilmore-Girls
"I looked down and I saw all this hair and dust between the keys of my keyboard."

When they get to the diner, Rory is huffy and short with Jess but he still doesn't understand that she's mad at him. Lorelai spells it out for him since Rory refuses but even that doesn't help.

Lorelai: Last night, didn’t you guys have plans to do something?
Jess: I don’t know. I just said I’d call her after work.
Lorelai: And did you?
Jess: I had to work another shift, I didn’t get off until midnight. It was too late to call.
Lorelai: And you couldn’t have taken two seconds at work to call and tell her that?
Jess: No.

Jess's attractiveness made teen Lindsay forget that he is a fucking nightmare, but adult Lindsay is absolutely hip to his nonsense.

At Lane's band practice, we find out that Mrs. Kim has booked Dave's Christian combo for her next prayer meeting. Zack and Brian are busy trying to figure out if it's a sin to call a hymn "gay" and whether or not abideth is a word. Can you believe that Lane ends up marrying one of these geniuses?

While Rory feeds muffins to this band of winners, Lorelai and Michel deal with Taylor and his family over at the inn. In an unexpected turn of events, I feel bad for Taylor because everyone treats him so poorly. It turns out that no one is immune to his assholery ("And why’d you put all those p’s in soda shop? Is that supposed to fancy or something?"). Yes, Taylor sucks, but I always thought that at least his own family would support his ridiculous shenanigans.

On the night of the big game, Lorelai calls the house to check her messages and finds that Rory is home alone, sitting around like a sad sack, waiting for Jess to call. After a brief pep talk, she convinces Rory to third wheel Lane's fake date with Yiung Chui at the hockey game. Later, when Lorelai is back at home, Jess swings by and asks for Rory. Lorelai tells him that he's an asshole and needs to treat Rory better. I normally hate when Lorelai interferes in Rory's personal life, but when I imagine myself in her position, I don't think I could contain my rage, either.

The big revelation at the game is that not only is Dean on the hockey team (who knew?) but he has a new girlfriend named Lindsay. She looks like a cast member of Laguna Beach, complete with Tiffany heart necklace, and is obviously uncomfortable around Rory. Even though Rory pretends to be happy for Dean and supportive of the new relationship, her insecurities immediately bubble to the surface. After she gushes to Dean about Lindsay and that fucking Mark Twain magnet she can't let go of, she rushes to a pay phone and leaves Jess an angry message.

Rory-Pay-Phone-Face-Off-Gilmore-Girls
I am angry, but too much of a wimp to tell you face to face.

"It’s me. I just wanted to let you know that this is the last weekend I spend sitting around like an idiot hoping you’ll call, okay? I’m not going to be that girl. From now on, I want a plan. I mean, a real plan with a time and a place, and I’m tired of hearing ‘Let’s hook up later.’ What does that mean anyway? What’s later? How do I set my watch to later? Later doesn’t cut it anymore, got it? And, yeah, you know, maybe I am spoiled. But guess what? I like being spoiled. I plan to go on being spoiled. And if that doesn't sound like something that you can or want to do, then fine. I'm sure you'll find another girl who doesn't mind sitting around cleaning her keyboard on a Friday night hoping you’ll call, but it’s not going to be me. Oh, yeah, this is a message for Jess."

As soon as she hangs up the phone and walks outside, she sees Jess, looking sexy as hell, leaning against his car, mumbling about how he has acquired Distiller tickets for that night. Rory expresses zero anger and is all, "When you get home, could you erase your answering machine without listening to any of the messages? That’d be great, thanks." When will Rory learn that you don't get what you want by remaining silent? Also, I'm sorry, but can you picture Rory fist pumping in the pit to "Drain the Blood"? Because I can't. I saw The Distillers on this tour at Club Laga in 2003 and almost got punched in the face by a woman with a pink mohawk during "Drain the Blood." I'm surpised that Distiller tickets magically make up for Jess's bullshit.

While Rory deals with Jess drama, Emily tries extremely hard to do right by Gran and treat her with respect. Gran complains that her flowers are too ostentatious? Emily gets new flowers. Gran mentions her serving dishes are tacky? Emily begs Lorelai for substitutes. Emily is a formidable opponent, but she puts her claws away and swallows her pride when it comes to Gran. I would normally find this behavior submissive and annoying, but I can only assume she does it because Gran is important to Richard and Emily doesn't want to make unnecessary waves.

As much as she tries to remain civil, all hell breaks loose after Emily sees Gran making out with an old coot in a track suit. Lorelai, the strange voice of reason, convinces Emily to stay quiet, but all bets are off after Gran humiliates her for the 100th time of the night. Emily exposes Gran and her paramour in front of all of the other old biddies and after a heartfelt apology and explanation, the two women reach a terse point of understanding. As far as B plots go, this one is relatively solid.

Random observations:

  • Lorelai's Brian Hutchins horror story made me laugh out loud. "He walks away and I don’t see him again until the tenth grade when he tries to sell me a dimebag at the Sadies Hawkins Day dance. And he was way overcharging for it, too."
  • Lane's band practice outfit is golden. She wears bootcut jeans with front flap pockets, a Tommy Hilfiger denim jacket, and a pink cat (or some other animal?) sweater layered over a pink collared shirt.
  • When Brian freaks out over the lack of the coffee and the types of muffins offered, Zack tells him to "chill out about your freaking elevenses." I had never heard this expression before but apparently, "elevenses" is a British word that means "a short break for light refreshments, usually with tea or coffee, taken about eleven o'clock in the morning." You learn something new every day.
  • Lorelai showed Emily slides from her Harvard trip with Rory, so of course she has a slide projector.
  • Emily carries Nature's Food bags, which I assume are stand-in for Whole Foods.
  • Film references this episode: "Face/Off," "Love in the Afternoon," "Hoosiers," and "Full Metal Jacket."
  • Can we please reflect on the Stars Hollow Minutemen logo for a second ............................... the fuck?
  • Hockey game junk food = churros and nachos. I approve.
  • I die whenever Kirk starts listing off all the people who will be dead the next time SHH plays in the regional semifinals. "Taylor, you’ll be dead. Babette, Miss Patty ... that man there in the hat."